Historic sites are not measured by time and age, but rather by the events of historic significance that took place there. They expose you to a location where our country and our state were forever changed. Visit some spots where history actually happened.
Renowned agricultural scientist, educator and humanitarian George Washington Carver (1864-1943) discovered more than 300 uses for the peanut, 70 uses for pecans, in excess of 110 from sweet potatoes, and hundreds of items using other agricultural crops. The George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, 16 miles southeast of Joplin, is his birthplace and childhood home. Facilities include a visitor center, a museum chronicling his life, a theater, an interactive discovery center, a gift shop and a nature trail.
In the winter of 1838, Cherokee Indians were removed from their homelands to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma), resulting in the deaths of approximately 4,000 Cherokees. The forced march, known as the Trail of Tears, crossed the Mississippi River and entered Missouri in an area preserved as Trail of Tears State Park, 11 miles north of Cape Girardeau. The visitor center features exhibits covering the march. The park offers camping, hiking and equestrian trails, a lake, fishing, a swimming beach, picnicking and an overlook of the Mississippi River.
In 1799, at the age of 65, iconic frontiersman Daniel Boone moved his family to an area of Spanish Louisiana that eventually became Missouri. The Historic Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center, seven miles northwest of Defiance, holds the home Daniel built for his youngest son, Nathan. Daniel spent most of his time in his son’s home; a massive four-story structure, with limestone walls two-and-a-half feet thick, built to provide protection in case of an Indian attack. Daniel Boone passed away in the home in 1820. The site includes a village made up of more than a dozen relocated 19th century buildings, including a general store, school house, grist mill, carpenter shop and the Old Peace Chapel.
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) was a world-renowned American painter and muralist who painted scenes of the American South and the American West. Two of his most famous murals can be seen in the House Lounge inside the state Capitol and in the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. In 1977, Benton's late-Victorian residence and carriage house studio in Kansas City was designated the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site; it has been preserved nearly unchanged from the time of his death. A blank canvas, paintbrushes and paints remain in the studio just as he left them. The main house and the studio contain many of his belongings, along with 13 original works of his art.
Founded in 1857, the population of Sedalia reached 15,000 by 1900, making it the fifth-largest city in the state. When the railway reached the town in 1861, Sedalia became the primary railhead for the massive Texas cattle drives. The Katy Depot and Railroad Heritage Museum chronicles the heydays of railroads, cattle drives and prosperity. During 1866 alone, more than 260,000 head reached the Sedalia stockyards, to be carried eastward by the Missouri-Kansas & Texas Railroad (the KATY), continuing through much of the 19th century. In addition to the museum, the Katy Depot serves as one of many trailheads for the Katy Trail State Park; at more than 237 miles it is the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the United States. The Depot’s facilities include a visitor center (yes, they have snacks) that has bicycle rentals, sales, and service.